Can You Diagnose Leadership?

Artificial Intelligence is here. One of the first places you'll see it (if you haven't already) is in the doctor's office. Which makes sense: the field has a huge body of literature in a narrow field where AI can thrive, rather than trying to create a general AI of the type that walks around in the movies; meanwhile misdiagnosis represents an enormous cost to both the economy and individuals, with 5% of US patients being misdiagnosed every year.

But as big data becomes less of a buzzword and more of a day to day reality in business, I still see data used asymmetrically in businesses around the world. Finance and operations were perhaps the first places data was embraced, while HR also collects a ton of data, but still appears to be wrestling with using it strategically on a consistent basis. So far the only place AI is generally touted within HR is in recruiting. Perhaps this is because the data Human Resources collects is much more varied, or the problem much more complex, or perhaps its an adoption issue. At the end of the day, we're still doing a poor job of matching talent to opportunity.

I would suggest that one of the first places we can start to implement Artificial Intelligence in a way that assists business leaders is in diagnosing leadership. (As an aside, if you were to be diagnosed, would anyone find symptoms of leadership in you?)

The best leaders have a feel for their people. They see potential, and they can guide others to improve by focusing on the right areas. If this is true, can we train an AI to observe you and report back with the keen insight of the world's best people developers? (Perhaps a software version of the mentalist.)

In fact, computers are already better at judging character than humans.  But we need to collect better data about people. I don't mean personal data: We already do a too-good job of collecting and storing contact information, pay data, and appraisal information. What we need is better focus on the intangibles, the really important stuff that separates a phenomenal employee from a good one. The stuff that matters.

It seems what we need is an evaluation revolution. Myers-Briggs, the most widely used psychometric, was invented in the 1920s. It surprises me that we are still using tools created before computing existed to measure human ability, while we simultaneously undergo the greatest data and knowledge revolution the world has ever known. Where's the measurement for the AI age? Well, I'm biased on that: what do you think?